Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Volunteer Spotlight: Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon 3/27/15

St.Bernard Project - New Jersey was happy to welcome back one of our repeat volunteer teams, Team Rubicon Region II for another day of service in Monmouth County. These New York and New Jersey area based military veterans and first responders are part of a national disaster recovery group. We asked the group members to share some thoughts on their time with SBP so far:

What drew you to serve with St. Bernard Project?

"We are interested in establishing an ongoing partnership with SBP to help communities on the road to recovery from Hurricane Sandy."

Which construction tasks did you do?

"We worked on drywall and insulation."

What was your favorite part of the volunteer experience?

"We really enjoyed working as a team to make a difference in our community and build camaraderie amongs our members. Our site supervisor Matt was very engaging and passionate, which really helped make the day a fantastic experience!"

How was this volunteer work different from other service experiences you've had?

"SBP is a wonderful group to work with - awesome site supervisors and always meaningful projects. We can't wait to come back!"

Any advice for future volunteers?

"We advise future volunteers to fully commit to making a difference by being completely engaged and volunteering often."

Friday, March 20, 2015

Volunteer Spotlight: NYU Goddaidites


New York University’s Rubin team connected with Friends of Rockaway through the NYU Center of Student Activities, Leadership and Service’s Martin Luther King Week of Service initiative, which is in its tenth year! Student who sign for volunteer service through the school are assigned to various service projects throughout the city to put Dr. King’s dream into practice. This year we were lucky enough to welcome thirty-three volunteers from the program. NYU's global draw—with volunteers hailing from across the country and from countries such as Singapore and China—helped make the Week of Service a particularly unique experience!

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”                                                  -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The NYU team served at two homes in varying stages of the reconstruction process. Their tasks ran the gamut of our services; at the Stack Family house, for instance, one could not turn a corner without finding members of their group working tirelessly at their assignments. The volunteers painted, mudded, sanded, and cleaned, in addition to doing light demolition work. Over lunch, we asked them to describe their volunteer experience with Friends of Rockaway and St. Bernard Project.

What was your favorite part of the volunteer experience?
“It was really memorable hearing the story of the home owner. It makes a big difference because we know exactly what all our efforts are going towards.”

“A lot of community service projects are usually based around temporary things, but through St. Bernard Project we are making a more permanent change for this family.”

“I have really enjoyed learning new skills and the structure of a house. It’s good to learn little bits about everything; I feel like it makes you a better person.”

Do you have any advice for future volunteers?
“Be prepared to get dirty!”

“It’s a lot of fun and it’s really rewarding to see the developments that are happening.”

“Cover your shoes before you go to paint!”

How was this volunteer work unique from other service experiences you've had?
Getting to work with adults who aren't just here for service hours, because it’s inspiring to see that the people who work here care about what they do.”

Thanks for all your hard work, NYU Goddaidites; we hope to work with you again soon!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Volunteer Spotlight: Grand Valley State Alternative Breaks Program

GVS at SBP NJ Headquarters
St. Bernard Project New Jersey was happy to welcome Grand Valley State Alternative Breaks to the Jersey Shore! Alternative Breaks is a registered student organization at Grand Valley State that organizes and executes a variety of volunteer service trips that range from work in affordable housing to disaster recovery. 

We asked the group members to share some thoughts on their experience: 

Why did you group choose to serve with SBP NJ?

"We wanted to be a part of the ongoing disaster recovery efforts on the Jersey Shore."

What construction tasks did your group do this week?

"We did so much: insulation, caulking, painting, demolition and pulling nearly 1,000 nails!"

What was your favorite part of the volunteer experience?

"Meeting so many new people who demonstrated such passion for disaster recovery."

"It was really moving to hear the homeowner stories and all they have been through since the storm."

"The site supervisors were wonderful and very engaging!"

"It felt great seeing the tangible impact we has as the week progressed. Building a home was very rewarding!"

What is your advice for future volunteers?

"Don't be afraid to ask questions!"

"Be willing to try new things."

"Take some time to explore the Jersey Shore; it is wonderful!"

If you want to come help us rebuild the Jersey Shore, register online today:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Volunteer Spotlight: Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Gamma Gamma Chapter at Hunter College

St. Bernard Project - New York was happy to welcome back one of our repeat volunteer teams, the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity at Hunter College, for another day of service in Rockaway. These New York City-based college students are members of the Alpha Gamma Gamma chapter of APO, anational co-educational service organization founded on the principles of Leadership, Friendship and Service.” We asked the group members to share some thoughts on their time with SBP so far:

What drew you to serve with St. Bernard Project?

“I volunteered last year and had a great experience!”

“It feels good knowing you can help someone through building a house.”

“A lot of people don’t know that there are still so many displaced homeowners; it’s really nice to help them return home.”

APO at SBP - NY headquarters
Which construction tasks did you do?

“We did some sanding and mudding, this time. Last year, we did a mix of painting, drywall, and insulation.”

What was your favorite part of the volunteer experience?

“I liked picking up new skills.”

“Drilling drywall into the house!”

“Doing service together as brothers!”

How was this volunteer work different from other service experiences you've had?

“It doesn't feel like work. It feels like we were in and out fast and we had a lot of fun!”

“The work was more hands-on.”

“I’d never gotten to ‘mud’ before, so I liked the new experiences.”

“We were given different tasks and didn't get stuck just doing one thing.”

Representatives from APO & SBP - NY
Any advice for future volunteers?

“Come in big numbers; it’s more fun and you can accomplish more together!”

“Get dirty...and dress appropriately!”

“It doesn't feel like work since the time passes quickly. Have fun with it!”

Thanks again for your continued hard work, Alpha Phi Omega: Alpha Gamma Gamma chapter. We hope to see you here in Rockaway again soon!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Volunteer Spotlight: Towson University

St. Bernard Project - New York was pleased to rebuild for several days with students from Towson University, a Baltimore area member of the University of Maryland System. The team of six ventured to Queens as part of their Alternative Break program, which “allows college students to learn about a specific social issue and then perform week-long projects with local non-profit organizations.” We asked the Towson students to share some thoughts on their time with St. Bernard Project.

What drew you to serve with St. Bernard Project?

“I was interested in Sandy relief because I’m from the [New York] area, but felt helpless being in Maryland during and after the storm.”

“I didn’t get to volunteer as much as I wanted to during the school year, and I wanted to make an impact outside of campus and branch out into the world; Alternative Break is a good time to do that!”

“My friends had volunteered in New Jersey before! I’d also read in an article that there was still much work to be done.”

Towson's Alternative Break group
Which construction tasks did you do?

Drywall and mudding!

What was your favorite part of the volunteer experience?

“I liked seeing everything come together and seeing the space change in the time we were here.”

“Finding hidden talents!”

“I really enjoyed seeing the local area and hearing stories about homeowners, the ongoing building in the neighborhood, etc.”

“Bonding as a team!”

How was this volunteer work different from other service experiences you've had?

“I’ve never done construction or gone out of state to volunteer before.”

“I’d done a lot of demo, so it was nice to do construction and see it moving in a positive direction.”

“The Site Supervisors served us tea!”

“Girl power!”

“It was nice to have the Site Supervisors on-site with us the whole time.”

Towson and SBP - NY Site Supervisors

Any advice for future volunteers?

“Whatever time you can give is helpful. Stay safe; ask questions if you need to.”

“Measure twice, cut once!”

“There’s no such thing as a straight line!”

Thanks for all your hard work, Towson University; we hope to see you out here in the Rockaways again soon!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Volunteer Spotlight: Stevenson Univeristy

Stevenson Univeristy, Mission: I'm Home, holds a place near and dear the SBP's heart. These long time volunteers have been bringing students to the Big Easy for many years. We asked them a bit more about why they keep choosing to volunteer with the St. Bernard Project.

"The Experiences in the past are consistently rewarding. The site supervisors always support the volunteers thought the taste and kept the work fun. The SBP mission is honest, clean, and absolutely making a difference. We are lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside SBP to rebuild New Orleans."

Stevenson Univeristy worked on two different houses, both in the mold remediation phase, which includes a three-step process. This is a critical stage of construction and ensures that the homes will not have to be torn back to the studs again. We asked them what they enjoyed most about coming to New Orleans and working with SBP. This is what they said.

"Meeting the Homeowner."

“Hearing the stories of where the AmeriCorps members are from and what brought them to SBP.”

“Understanding, and seeing the history of Katrina and New Orleans.”

“Getting to know people from my school that I didn’t know before this trip.”

“I didn’t think I could be this happy bring this gross.”

“Learning new skills and understanding the importance of what we are doing.”

“Using my two hands to make a difference."

We asked them what they would tell others who are looking to volunteer to rebuild New Orleans and the lives of the people who live here. They advised to:

"Come open minded and remember that every step matters.”

“You’re not just building a home, you're rebuilding a life.”

“Bring music! Motto of Mission I’m home - Eat. Work. Dance.”

“Get ready to have your life changed.”

When asked how this was different than other volunteer experiences they had, they collectively agreed that it was a personal experience, and they left feeling fulfilled, completely understanding the difference you are truly making. Thanks again Stevenson - we'll see you next year!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Volunteer Spotlight: Farmers Insurance


St. Bernard Project- New Jersey recently had the pleasure of working with Farmers Insurance. Farmers has been a vital partner to the St. Bernard Project in our rebuilding efforts. Farmers has been sending up to five of their employees every week to help with our rebuilding efforts. For 2015 Farmers has doubled down on the recovery effort by extending employees volunteer stints by an extra week! This dedication to our recovery efforts has been absolutely incredible, without committed and passionate partners like Farmers this important work might not get done.

Last week, was the start of what we know will be another fruitful year of partnering with Farmers. We had three fantastic volunteers who hailed from all over the Mid-Atlantic Area spend a week with with us rolling up their sleeves and getting their boots dirty. They completed various construction tasks, including: hanging drywall; mudding; and spackling. These hands-on activities allowed the volunteers to gain a true understanding of how big an impact volunteer labor can make in the rebuilding process.

One of the members mentioned how great it was to really see the tangible impact of their efforts. Another commented how exciting it was to gain new skills, while at the same time contributing to a valuable service towards the community. All of these individuals put a strong emphasis on taking the opportunity to get involved with SBP’s important work. Volunteering with SBP in New Jersey was a unique experience for the group not only because this line of work was new to them but also because it was the 1st time many of them felt they were really making a difference through volunteering. Serving with SBP in New Jersey, provided Farmers Insurance members the chance to see 1st hand the challenges that still lie ahead, but most importantly the experience demonstrated the tremendous value volunteers have on the community.

Thanks for all your hard work Farmers Insurance!

To volunteer with the St. Bernard Project visit:

Written by: Michael Spinello